Minsk - Moscow: Rapprochement or Delimitation?

Experts on the prospects of Russian-Belarusian relations

MOSCOW – All statements of the Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko should be considered exclusively in the context of the upcoming presidential elections, experts interviewed by the Voice of America Russian service say.

The day before, during the traditional “Big Conversation” broadcast on state television, Lukashenka, answering a question, confirmed that he was going to run for president again. At the same time, he made a reservation that he did not intend to rule for life or to transfer power by inheritance to children..

“They won’t carry me from the presidency to the next world,” he stressed..
Meanwhile, a kind of anniversary is planned this year: 25 years of Alexander Lukashenko’s permanent rule. He did not even make such a maneuver as Vladimir Putin, who, after two presidential terms for four years, “moved” to the prime minister’s chair. Moreover, the “dad” acted in full accordance with the letter of the Belarusian constitution.
True, the president, who accused him of falsifying the elections, has always suppressed the opposition harshly through the security forces, already little in accordance with the law. For this, he was sharply criticized by international human rights organizations, as well as sanctions from Western countries, including the United States, and was known as the “last dictator” of Europe. “.
As during almost all recent public speeches, Lukashenka at the Big Conversation did not ignore the topic of relations between Minsk and Moscow. Thus, he assured that 98 percent of the population of the republic is opposed to the entry of Belarus into the Russian Federation. According to him, Belarusians live together with Russians, but “in their own apartment.”.
In addition, the Belarusian president rejected Moscow’s desire to “swallow Belarus”, although earlier he had made statements of a completely opposite sense and even promised to put the entire adult population of the country under arms to protect national sovereignty in the event of aggression. The aggressor, of course, was not personified. But after the annexation of Crimea by Russia, this was not required to be done..
In a word, there are enough disagreements between the parties both in the political and economic spheres. It is no coincidence that the presidents of Russia and Belarus only met face-to-face twice in December, and in February 2019 they held three-day talks again, and all without any visible sense..
Professor at the Faculty of Political Science, Higher School of Economics Nikolay Petrov In an interview with the Voice of America, he noted that despite the intense discussion between Moscow and Minsk on how the Union State should develop, no real shifts in Belarus’s position are visible so far. As he sees it, everything that Lukashenka says is rather a kind of “smoke screen” hiding the aspiration of his most urgent problem for him today..

Minsk - Moscow: Rapprochement or Delimitation?

“Namely, to receive money from Russia, without which it would be difficult to conduct the presidential election campaign, and at the same time not to compromise on any principled considerations,” he said. – So far, only this is noticeable “.
During the Big Conversation, Lukashenka, among other things, spoke out in favor of creating a single currency for the two countries, which the Kremlin had urged him to do for a long time. However, according to the Belarusian president, the Russian ruble is not suitable for this role, just like Moscow is not suitable for an emission center..
Nikolai Petrov found it difficult to say whether Lukashenko is ready to demonstrate any real progress in his approaches. He believes that everything will again be limited to promises and statements of a general nature: “Until now, Lukashenka managed to beat Moscow, and it is difficult to imagine that this time everything will turn out differently. It is not for nothing that the Belarusian leader prefers to operate with extremely vague formulations and categories. So it was now, when he started talking about the transition to a single currency. The main thing for him is to designate some non-binding step towards the Kremlin and get money for it “.
And after the elections are held, Lukashenka will already be on horseback and in a much stronger position, the political scientist summed up.
The presidential elections in Belarus should be held in 2020, although it is possible to postpone them to an earlier date..

PART 6: Minsk, Belarus to Moscow by rail – A stale smelling compartment on Russian Railways.

In turn, the Belarusian journalist and political observer Artem Shraibman I agree that the republic has extremely low support for the idea of ​​joining Russia. According to his estimates, it is at the “marginal level” – up to 5 percent.
“In the perception of ordinary Belarusians, Russia is a country of oligarchs, corruption, bad roads, banditry and inequality,” he explained in a commentary to the Voice of America. – And Belarus is a country where there is no too large gap between the rich and the poor, and there is at least some hint of social justice. The overwhelming majority of Belarusian citizens believe that Russia will bring chaos with it and put an end to the relative order and stability that exist in the republic ”.

Minsk - Moscow: Rapprochement or Delimitation?

Therefore, even among the most conservative strata of Belarusian society, the desire to maintain a distance from Russia prevails, the journalist says..
“In addition, there is a fairly impressive number of Belarusians (about 30%) who see the republic as a European country,” he added. “They are, in principle, unhappy with the fact that Minsk is closely connected with Moscow, and, naturally, oppose deepening integration with a large neighbor”.
In Artem Shraibman’s opinion, in reality, things are moving towards a gradual distance between Belarus and Russia..

Minsk - Moscow: Rapprochement or Delimitation?
  • Victor Vladimirov

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